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Q&A With Authors ’ Category
Wednesday, May 29th, 2013
When a preschool teacher told Kristine Barnett
that her autistic son would never read–so she shouldn’t bother teaching him–she pulled him out of class. Ever since then, she’s been completely devoted to Jacob. They found out that his IQ is higher than Einstein’s, and by age 9, he was working on an original theory in astrophysics that may put him in line for a Nobel Prize someday. Kristine’s book, The Spark: A Mother’s Journey of Nurturing Genius
is a testament to her love for and belief in her son who’s potential could’ve gone untapped. Today, Jacob is a teenager and taking graduate level classes. You might have seen him on YouTube
or TV. Keep on eye on this book–it’s even been optioned for a movie.
Below, Kristine talks about her extraordinary son and popular book.
KK: In three sentences, how would you describe what your book is about?
KB: The Spark is an inspirational memoir that narrates my journey with her remarkable child who was once locked in the silent world of autism and later, despite all odds, emerged to become one of the world’s youngest astrophysics researchers. Through love and perseverance, me and my son Jacob led an entire community of autistic children to achieve remarkable results that would surprise experts and help to redefine what the autism label means. Beyond this, the story points the way to unlocking the untapped potential or spark that perhaps lies deep within all of us!
KK: How old was your son when doctors told you he would never learn? How old was he when you knew differently?
KB: When Jacob was 3 years old, his special education teacher told us that he would never need to learn the alphabet. Against the advice of everyone including my own husband, I pulled him out of special ed and began to work with him on my own. Through play and typical childhood childhood experiences as well as focusing on what he could do, rather than his shortcomings, I began to see results. I had never given up on Jacob’s potential to learn although I knew he faced tremendous challenges. Sometimes it seemed like I was the only one who could see that he was working on something remarkable deep within his silent world. Within six months of taking Jacob out of special education preschool, he was in fact reading without any formal instruction! Later that year at a trip to a local planetarium, Jacob surprised us all by answering college level astronomy questions about the relationship between the mass of the moons of Mars and the gravitational pull of the planet!
KK: What advice do you have for parents of special needs children who are getting less than positive news from their doctors?
KB: Raising a special needs child is one of the hardest things a parent could ever imagine facing. In spite of the overwhelming diagnosis that I was given for Jacob, I never gave up hope. I refused to let myself focus merely on his challenges or to let any label define his potential. Do not forget to focus on your child’s strengths and to celebrate the things that they are drawn to and inspired by. These could be the very things that can lead them to reach the ultimate potential that they have inside of them.
KK: Can you tell us how old your son is now and a little bit about what he has accomplished?
KB: Jacob is now 14, and he is a research scientist in the field of quantum physics. He is the youngest person to ever be published in Physical Review A, a prestigious scientific journal. He takes graduate level classes in mathematics and physics, tutors undergraduate students and has expanded his research to multiple areas including chaotic laser physics, quantum friction and integrable systems. At age 12, Jacob made a YouTube video on calculus that went viral and had over 2 million views. It was seen in every country around the world. He was invited at 13 to New York to give a Tedxteen talk at the Scholastic Auditorium on Broadway that is now the eleventh most watched Tedx talk of all time. This was a remarkable achievement for a boy who was told he would never speak. Jacob has been on CBS News, 60 Minutes and on the Glenn Beck Show on Fox.
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autism, child prodigy, Jacob Barnett, Kristine Barnett, The Spark, The Spark: A Mother's Journey of Nurturing Genius | Categories:
Books-to-Movies, Memoirs, Mom Must Read, Must Read, Parenting Advice, Popular Books, Q&A With Authors
Thursday, May 23rd, 2013
Love reading? (You must if you’re checking out my blog!) Love your baby? Combine these two joys quickly and easily tonight. In today’s Part One of two stories, I asked the authors of Reading with Babies, Toddlers and Twos three questions about how to get started with your little one.
KK: At what age is it important to start reading?
It’s never too soon to start and never too late to begin. You can show a tiny baby illustrations and contrasting images and read a cheerful rhyme, or prop books by the changing table, or tie them to the stroller. Share a book every chance you get.
KK: By they time they’re toddlers, how many minutes should we be reading to them?
Don’t stress about “how many minutes” you’re reading daily. If the books are around, and you’re seizing opportunities, you’re sharing good book time. There’s no magic number. What’s important is making reading something you both enjoy.
KK: How does starting a healthy reading habit when they’re young help them as they hit elementary and middle schools?
A child who starts reading early is a child who has never known life without books. This child develops a trust in the stories and information and adventures within a book. Expecting pleasure from reading makes so much of school easier. A fluent vocabulary—the kind that comes from sharing a wide variety of books—comes naturally to a reader. Continue reading with your child once she can read to herself. Bring out chapter books and old favorites and keep going as long as she’s listening. You’ll both be glad you did.
About the authors:
KJ Dell’Antonia is the lead writer and editor of the New York Times Motherlode parenting blog. Also as a children’s book reviewer and a mother of four children, she knows which books work best and why. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and two young children.
Susan Straub founded the READ TO ME program more than 20 years ago, a national workshop encouraging young families to read to their babies that is still thriving. Ms. Straub’s work with READ TO ME has been celebrated on NY1 television and in Oprah’s O magazine. She lives in New York City.
Rachel Payne is the coordinator of early childhood services at the Brooklyn Public Library. She knows why some books are carried around, colored on, taken to meals, and slept with, while others are pushed away after a single
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KJ Dell’Antonia, Reading, Reading with Babies, Susan Straub, Toddlers and Twos | Categories:
Children's Books, Mom Must Read, Mommy Bloggers, Must Read, Parenting Advice, Picture Books, Popular Books, Q&A With Authors
Thursday, May 2nd, 2013
What do parents do differently in Finland, Sweden, Germany, Japan and other countries? Christine Gross-Loh, a mom and Harvard-educated expert, has lived all over the world, and made it her goal to find the answers. I can’t wait to read her new book, Parenting Without Borders, that comes out today.
Here’s a preview: Guatemalan children don’t go through the terrible twos and Italian children love to eat healthy food. Finnish kids have the highest test scores and get the most recess. Intrigued, I asked Christine to tell me more. She even picks her favorite country and gives reasons why. (You’ll be surprised!)
KK: In three sentences, how would you describe your book?
CGL: Parenting Without Borders is about surprising lessons I learned from other parents in other cultures about raising kids with less stress, more joy, and more conviction. While some of the thinking I encountered was sometimes just about the opposite of ours (for instance, in some countries, such as Norway, people say that you keep your child safe by letting him take some risks so that he can learn how to hone his inner judgment about his capabilities, while in our country we tend to keep our children protected from risks until we deem them ready), I came to see how we American parents could benefit from taking a fresh look at our own assumptions. Seeing that there are so many ways to define good parenting and so many ways for children to thrive has made me a more relaxed parent.
KK: What are the three most helpful parenting tips you’ve learned from other cultures?
CGL: 1. To be careful not to get in my children’s way too much. Kids in other cultures experience more autonomy and independence, and are given the message that it’s okay to make mistakes, to stumble and fall–this is part of growing up. Research shows this approach has lots of benefits.
2. At the same time, we could take a more concerted role in certain areas, such as teaching eating as a life skill, teaching children patience and respect for others (it’s not stifling them; it’s giving them some great tools), giving them responsibilities around the home, and not pulling back as much as we are told we should when they become adolescents. Young adolescents who know that their parents have expectations for them tend to do better in school.
3. Don’t feel you have to do it alone. It’s the norm in most cultures for parents to be supported by others (extended family or a community of friends). It’s good for our kids to bump up against all sorts of people and perspectives and it’s good for us too, not to feel like we are solely responsible for how our kids turn out.
KK: What is your favorite country you and your family have lived in and why?
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CGL: I write about Japan a lot in my book because we lived there for so long that our kids think of it as a second home. There is lots to love about the country: Young kids have freedom to roam there, children are given more time to play (academics don’t start till grade 1 and kids have plenty of recess, art, gym, and music class), and it feels like a whole community is on the same page about expectations for kids, which helps take the burden off of you as an individual parent. You know other adults around you will help reinforce and back you up. But I have to say our favorite place to be is right here in the U.S. What I love about parenting here is our positive spirit; how much we want to do well by our kids, and how open-minded we are. We are very willing to consider all sorts of perspectives.
Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013
Did you love Kristin Hannah‘s novel Firefly Lane? Or maybe you adored one of her other 12 books. If so, you’re in luck today. Her newest called Fly Away hits stores. The bestselling author brings back the characters you know and love in this book that centers around Tully–and how she deals with loss, commitments and love.
Kristin answered some questions about writing and motherhood. Her own friendships inspire her to write about them with skill and purpose. Read more from this prolific and beloved author below:
KK: What’s one thing you want fans to know on why they should read Fly Away?
KH: I hope readers enjoy the journey of this book and are reminded about how important it is to be there for the people we love.
KK: Did you have fun revisiting the characters from Firefly Lane?
KH: I don’t know that fun is the right word. I felt a real burden with this novel to not let my readers down. Firefly Lane was such a special novel to so many people. I wanted to write a story that lived up to their expectations and still surprised them.
KK: You write about your hometown Seattle/Bainbridge often, do you find that a majority of your inspiration comes from there?
KH: Absolutely. I love the Pacific Northwest and want to share that passion with my readers.
KK: You’re known for writing about your mother/daughter and girlfriend relationships. Can you share one of your favorite girlfriend memories?
KH: I have so many fabulous memories of great times with my girlfriends. Probably the best of them begin with two of us sitting on a beach, just talking. And laughing. We always laugh.
KK: You have a son. Can you tell me more about him and your relationship?
KH: Motherhood is the most important facet of my life. I really just love being a mom…even when it’s hard, and we all know how tough it can be. Now I’m in the empty nest phase of motherhood and learning how to be mom from a distance. I love watching my son come into his own.
KK: What inspires you to write so many great books?
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KH: I am endlessly fascinated with the moments and issues that shape our lives, and I love writing. I am so fortunate to have the ability to do this every day.
Wednesday, April 17th, 2013
What if you knew you only had a few years to live? That’s what happened to working mom Susan Spencer-Wendel when she was diagnosed with ALS (commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) at age 45. In her bestselling memoir, Until I Say Goodbye, she quickly sets off on special trips with her kids, husband, sister and best friend and vows to live joyously. Susan and her publisher, HarperCollins, have teamed up with Princess Cruises to offer Susan’s readers (that means you!) a 5-day Caribbean cruise called the “Experience of a Lifetime.” Princess Cruises is sending one lucky winner and her guest on a 5-day Caribbean cruise! Enter the sweepstakes before April 30, 2012 to win.
Susan’s book, Until I Say Goodbye, shows what one determined woman does to make the best of life under terminal circumstances. She goes to the Yukon to see the Northern Lights with her lifelong best girlfriend. She’s an adopted child, so Susan ventures to California and Greece to uncover her biological parents’ pasts and try to recover the family Bible. Friends help her organize thousands of family photos so her two boys and teenage girl will receive a special scrapbook. She builds a tiki hut in the backyard by her pool where she rests, socializes and writes this book with her only working finger–her right thumb–on her iPhone. Her husband, John, shows big, devoted love as he cares for her while working full time and rounding up their children ages 9, 11 and 15, plus the dog.
This book is not about dying. It’s a beautiful tribute to living with purpose. Susan proves to be a strong, determined, wise and witty woman. Her journey will make you want to do something special with your family and friends right now. Until I Say Goodbye will make you laugh and cry (just a little).
John Wendel, Susan’s husband, answered some questions for me about his family’s journey. Currently, he lovingly takes care of Susan.
KK: Do you have a mantra that has helped you cope in this difficult time that might provide inspiration to other parents in your shoes?
JW: My mantra is, “Be happy.” I figure if she (Susan) can be happy, I can be happy. Very early on Susan decided to “live with joy.” It may sound simple, a bit hokey even, but it gets us through. Being happy isn’t like flipping a light switch. It’s hard. An interviewer once asked Susan, “How do you live with joy?” Her answer: You try.
KK: What was the most surprising thing you learned about your family during this ordeal?
JW: I think what surprised me most is the resilience that our children have shown. Susan and I didn’t rush to tell the kids of her diagnosis. Why drop the bomb on them? The progress of her disease was so slow and nearly imperceptible that they didn’t seem to notice that Susan went from healthy and fit to unable to move and barely able to speak. When they did ask if Mommy is going to die, I answered simply and honestly. I think they already knew the answer, but were just confirming. Their responses have been very matter of fact and accepting — like their mother’s. In fact my 11-year-old son Aubrey recently told me that one of his teachers had spoken to the class about our situation on a day that he was absent from school. Aubrey was upset and told me that he knows what’s happening to mommy and doesn’t need any special treatment from the other kids at school.
KK: What was Susan’s favorite memory from the cruise she took with her sister?
JW: Susan said that the best part of the cruise was the opportunity for her and Stephanie to just talk without any interruptions or distractions. Even though we lived on the same street as Stephanie, it seemed that kids, work, and crazy schedules kept them from having any time alone to just talk.
KK: How do you communicate what is happening to your children? Do you have any advice to offer others in a similar position to you?
JW: Before we communicated anything to the children, Susan and I talked with each other about what would be best. We also sought the advice of counselors. We knew we wanted to be honest with them. The counselors advised us that the children would ask when they were ready. Many friends and relatives seemed concerned that we hadn’t sat the kids down and had “the talk” with them. Our philosophy was that they were going to have their worlds turned upside down regardless. Why not let them go along blissfully unaware as long as we could. As it turned out we never really had to have “the talk”. They asked. I answered, and that was that. They asked two follow up questions: How much longer will she live, and is it contagious?
My advice to anyone in a similar situation would be to seek advice from a counselor, have a plan, and be honest.
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Best Sellers, Memoirs, Mom Must Read, Must Read, Parenting Advice, Popular Books, Q&A With Authors